The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) is a comprehensive doctoral research institution, with $38.9 million in sponsored research funding support, currently serving 16,238 undergraduates and 3,083 graduate students. Of these students, more than 1/3 are enrolled in biomedical departments at UNCG, and the majority are from groups that are underrepresented in biomedical disciplines. UNCG has identified health and wellness as an area of distinction, with programs that span all educational levels, garner impressive national rankings, and include faculty who are recognized through awards and honors and generate significant external funding. UNCG has made a specific commitment to increase research funding in areas of health and wellness over the next five years. Growth in the biomedical research enterprise at UNCG requires robust and efficient research administration infrastructure. A 28% growth in research funding over the last five years has advanced the research mission of NIH and of UNCG, but it has also strained the existing sponsored projects administration (SPA) capabilities which are hampered by three primary issues: a legacy eRA system that creates inefficiencies and errors; inadequate professional training opportunities for SPA staff which includes both centralized and de-centralized staff; and a need for additional research development and project startup support for biomedical researchers. Our data on proposal submission and award rates suggests these barriers may especially impact our rapidly growing number of faculty from groups that are underrepresented in biomedical fields. In order to strengthen UNCG?s sponsored projects administration, specifically in preparation for the planned emphasis on growth in biomedical research, we propose the Research Administration Modernization Program (RAMP UNCG) which includes three aims: 1. Enhance sponsored programs infrastructure to increase regulatory compliance, decrease administrative burden, and provide access to enterprise-wide research administration data through the phased implementation of a commercial eRA system; 2. Facilitate the development of sponsored programs capacity and administration through the implementation of a scaffolded curriculum of competency-based professional development and mentorship for research administration staff to ensure that all research support staff have the requisite knowledge and skills to provide efficient pre- and post- award services; 3. Promote biomedical research and research training through the implementation of targeted strategies in support of faculty from groups that have been traditionally underrepresented in Biomedical Sciences and NIH funding. The success of RAMP UNCG has enormous potential for attracting and retaining talented scientists and students from diverse backgrounds to UNCG?s biomedical research and training enterprise, ultimately contributing toward the national imperative for a diverse biomedical workforce.
Proposal Title: Research Administration Modernization Program at UNCG (RAMP UNCG) Project Narrative: The RAMP UNCG project aims to propel the University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG) into the next phase in its continuing evolution as a diverse, student focused and community engaged research university. Our institutional proposal will be led by a team of experienced research administrators committed to strengthening the research enterprise using an innovative, integrative and sustainable approach to capacity building, by engaging more underrepresented faculty in the biomedical disciplines in sponsored research activities, by reducing the administrative burden of research administration through the implementation of a modern electronic Research Administration (eRA) system, and by providing a robust curricula of professional development activities for all staff that support UNCG?s community of researchers. The proposed objectives are consistent with the goals of the NIH Sponsored Programs Administration Development (SPAD) Program and will have a significant impact on UNCG?s ability to increase its biomedical research enterprise activity while simultaneously contributing to the mission of NIH and the future biomedical workforce.